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Jeep enters the Luxury SUV Arena

Jeep has played an important role in 20th century American history as the main personnel transport vehicle in combat. After WWII the U.S. Postal Service used the surplus jeeps to deliver the mail to rural areas. Jeep has a very loyal following; it is all that has survived from American motors which brought us such classics as the Pacer and the Gremlin. The initial vehicle had a 60 horsepower engine and was built by Willy’s to meet the following specifications, weight 1200lbs payload 600 lbs. The success of the Jeep was its portability and cost. Costing less then 1/10 the price of a tank the jeep was able to mechanize the infantry to get troops to the front line faster and out flank the enemy, who were primarily on foot. Over 300,000 Jeeps were shipped to Europe during WWII vs. 40,000 tanks. At the end of the war Willy’s started selling Jeeps to civilians at a price of $1090.

Chrysler having scene the success of its Hemi engine in the 300C has decided to build a Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8. Chrysler had predicted that 10% of their sales with the 300 would be with the optional Hemi. When the initial sales figures came in it was more like 30% a percentage that has not gone down. Jeep has been selling its Grand Cherokee with a 5.7 liter Hemi that produced 330 horsepower but that model failed to capture the imagination of Jeep buyers with sales running a mere 3% of all Grand Cherokee sales. For the new SRT8 model to be a success Jeep has to find buyers beyond the Jeep loyalists and attract the luxury sport SUV buyers that are currently considering the BMW X5 or the Porsche Cayenne Turbo.

Jeep once built what was then (1984) considered the height of luxury in the SUV market. The Jeep Grand Wagoneer weighed 6,000 pounds had a 5.9 liter V8 engine and got 6-9 miles to the gallon. Back then SUV’s were not yet in style so besides Isuzu and Jeep there were few choices in that market. Jeep is betting that with SUV sentiment at an all time high now is a good time to introduce a Jeep that will have a list price of $46,000. Porsche has had tremendous success with the Cayenne but that was the first Porsche SUV.
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